GigsWiz da Golden Ticket

GigsWiz da Golden Ticket

Contributing Writer : Rashon A. Massey

This past December 2010, I had the opportunity to Skype with Kevin Hartz, CEO and co-founder of Eventbrite, a new, rapidly growing ticketing service [http://therfw.com/#/2010/12/the-wiz-how-kevin-hartz-builds-success/ ].  The video chat came on the heels of our meeting at a Las Vegas conference that not only showcased Eventrbrite, but several other emerging ticketing solutions offering 3rd party assistance to live music promotion and events.

That said, I thought I had witnessed just about every surfacing technology in the ticketing field.  There were booths from Ticket Derby, IN-TICKETING, Ticket Fly, Brown Paper Tickets…I mean…a plethora of options; however, with the New Music Seminar coming up and taking place February 14 – 16 at the Universal Sheraton in Los Angeles, I learned yet another ticketing company would be putting their stub into the collection.

Thus we have GigsWiz.

In conjunction with our coverage of the New Music Seminar, I took time to have a Skype chat with co-founder Joonas Pekkanen at 9 a.m. EST (lucky for him, it was 4:00 p.m. in Finland).  Joonas is a collegiate graduate with a Finance major, but became disillusioned with that scene relatively soon after completing his coursework.  He has dabbled in startups for the last five years, and just over a year ago, started working on the concept for GigsWiz in the spring before last summer.  Joonas, Juuso Vermasheinä and a tight-knit team who developed the company, all come from a social media and tech perspective and found people in the music business to aid in their understanding of how to better the flawed ticketing system by which the music industry is currently utilizing.

Here is my conversation with Joonas Pekkanen:

Where did GigsWiz come from?

We got an initial pre-seed investment which allowed us to quit our jobs and start working on the business idea early on.  The idea came from marketing and how until now there has been no real innovations in how to effectively use social media to promote live gigs, and then we decided to position ourselves as the first and only artist friendly ticketing service.  All of them out there have been on the side of promoters and venues, but to be able to effectively use social media between artists and fans, you have to be working with the artists.  That is where we saw opportunity.

Can you explain more about this chasm between ticketing services and artists?

Promoters and event organizers are having a hard time reaching the fans.  They have little tools to reach audiences – outdoor ads, radio or tv commercials, and still struggling to reach audiences through social media.  Early last summer, we [developing team for GigsWiz] made a quick tool/widget for musicians to start collecting requests from fans of where they should be playing live, simultaneously focusing a business plan towards something more artists friendly.  That took about a week or two.

Promoters can use us for ticket entry management, then GigsWiz eliminates, as much as possible, the work promoters have to do.  The service allows them to post to different gig sites, while also giving tools to the artists those promoters work with.

So you are launching GigsWiz in America at the New Music Seminar in L.A. on February 14, correct?

Yes.  We’re launching publicly in the States at NMS, and two weeks ago we launched in Europe.  Everyone seems to be excited about the concept.  It is something that builds value for the promoter and the artists.  We’re co-sponsoring the seminar and really hoping to reach the independent promoters and musicians.

I was just at a conference that featured several ticketing solutions aiming to stake claim in the music industry.  From Brown Paper Tickets to Ticket Derby.  I was able to chat with Kevin Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite, a steadily rising service becoming wildly popular.  How will GigsWiz position itself as a service different and unique from the others?

Our initial position is for the medium and independent artist’s category.  Obviously Ticketmaster and the big ticketing companies have a strong situation with big venues, owning a lot of those venues, and that is obviously not something we are trying to enter right away.  Festival promoters are one of the positioning segments we are interested in.  A festival with 20 bands, each with 5,000 Facebook followers, well, that is already a direct reach to push the festival itself.  At the same time, we are working with medium sized promoters.

Eventbrite is doing a great job, and they are the only ones doing a good job on the social media side.  They are also doing a great job monetizing ticketing.  It is really easy to set it up and not a real heavy investment.  It’s the data, marketing tools, and the artists being the most important parties according to our philosophy, and we realize them [artists] and management really they need the data most ticketing companies don’t share or offer.

In terms of where we want to be, we want to be a global company in the next few years, getting a sizeable market share in the live music markets.

As a man of technology, are you already thinking about the next ‘thing’?  What will come after GigsWiz becomes a global brand?

We’re so new that right now I think I am just trying to do this to the best of my ability.  There is so much that can be done to really start leveraging social media for ticketing, artists and promoters and I want to make sure GigsWiz is offering the best before I move on.

Thanks for the chat!  Can’t wait to catch up with your colleagues at NewMusic Seminar!

Same to you.  Cheers!